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FORUMS General Gear Talk Tripods, Monopods & Other Camera Support
Thread started 16 May 2017 (Tuesday) 07:48
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Long exposures with Super Tele's - Is it possible?

 
StanNJ1
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Post has been last edited 5 months ago by StanNJ1. 4 edits done in total.
May 16, 2017 07:48 |  #1

I picked up a Wimberley gimbal head WH-200 vII and needed sturdy tripod legs to support my 1DX MKII and Canon 200-400 f/4 with the built in 1.4 extender.

The support will be needed for general shooting and occasional airshows but more importantly to give me a solid platform while shooting long exposures at night

When I started shopping for tripod legs I was surprised to see that a set of Gitzo or RRS legs was going to set me back around $1,000 USD so I decided to give the Benro TMA48CXL Mach 3 a try which was about half the cost. http://www.benrousa.co​m/products/benro-tma48cxl.aspx (external link)

I did some experimenting with this combo at night and the results are mixed.

First, locking up the mirror made a world of difference. Also worth noting is that I shot without raising the center column and IS was turned off.

If I tap lightly on the camera or lens while looking through the viewfinder there is noticeable shake that doesn’t go away immediately.

When applying moderate pressure to the camera and lens I can see some twisting of the tripod legs but the Wimberley appears to be solid.

I managed to get some decent sharpness shooting up to 20 seconds but when the wind starting blowing a little I noticed that my keeper rate went way down.

I’m seeking advice from those wiser than me helping me decide on whether to bite the bullet on the more expensive legs or whether I’m generally just asking too much from this type of equipment. Thanks in advance.
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Post has been edited 5 months ago by TeamSpeed.
May 16, 2017 08:31 |  #2

I am interested in the responses, this could be useful for astro as well for 5 sec shots of various entities. I have used our mini van as a windbreak before.

Depending on your vehicle and space inside, is there a way to create a platform/foundation inside and shoot out a window? Since it is a long tele, nothing from the vehicle should obstruct the edges of the frame. Probably a silly or impractical idea though, wind could affect the vehicle as well causing movement. :(


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May 16, 2017 08:47 |  #3

I wonder if you've tried adding weight from the center post to add stability? It might help a little.
And maybe focus stacking like the Macro guys do would be something to try.

TeamSpeed wrote in post #18355993 (external link)
I have used our mini van as a windbreak before.

Good idea. I wouldn't shoot from inside though, because I've felt the wind move them like a big sail.


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StanNJ1
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May 16, 2017 21:21 |  #4

TeamSpeed wrote in post #18355993 (external link)
Depending on your vehicle and space inside, is there a way to create a platform/foundation inside and shoot out a window? :(

Thanks for the suggestion but this wouldn't work. As you also pointed out, the vehicle will definitely move a lot from outside disturbances. Also, my vehicle is seldom in the same place that I shoot from.


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ShadowHillsPhoto
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May 30, 2017 09:53 |  #5

I'll be honest, I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that someone with a $17,000 lens/camera combo decided to pinch pennies on their tripod setup. There's a few things you can try though. Adding weight as suggested above is one. If your tripod allows it I would also completely remove the center column and mount the head directly to the tripod. Something like the long lens support system that RRS makes might be worth considering, I've done some testing with one using 500mm and 600mm lenses and it made an impact at slower shutter speeds. After that, see if you can borrow a good RRS or Gitzo and see if it makes a difference.

I also have to question using the 200-400 for this application in the first place. Why not use smaller primes like 200 2.8, 300 4.0, 400 5.6, etc? The smaller profile would be much less susceptible to wind and vibrations in general.




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Post has been edited 4 months ago by Wilt.
May 30, 2017 10:02 |  #6

ShadowHillsPhoto wrote in post #18366496 (external link)
The smaller profile would be much less susceptible to wind and vibrations in general.

No matter how rigid and free from induced vibrations the tripod itself and the head supporting the body+long lens may be, wind can and will cause the entire rig to shift during long exposures on the very dirt upon which the rig is planted. Use of spiked feet helps that issue, where rubber tipped legs only cause the rubber tips to shift in the dirt!

Everyone is so conscious about the (claims of) weight capacity or even the vibration dampening, but totally ignore the rotational stiffness which is needed to resist twisting forces placed by the wind on a long lens, levering the whole thing about the rotational axis. Added weight does NOTHING for addressing the (lack of) rotational stiffness.


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StanNJ1
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May 30, 2017 20:38 as a reply to Wilt's post |  #7

I hear what you're saying about the rotation of the tripod and I agree. I went into B&H and they set up the identical gear that I shoot with on a 5 series Gitzo. I didn't have my Benro tripod with me to do a side by side comparison but I could still tell the difference. The Gitzo is sturdier but not to the point where I was absolutely convinced that it would give me a rock solid platform for long exposures. I decided to try a long lens bracket. See the below post.


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StanNJ1
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Post has been edited 4 months ago by StanNJ1.
May 30, 2017 21:06 |  #8

Still unsure if long exposures are possible with my Canon 200-400 mounted to a 1DX MKII but I'll keep trying. I wouldn't be happy knowing that a piece of equipment stopped me from doing something that I love.
As I posted above, my Benro TMA48CXL Mach 3 tripod legs are giving me mixed results with long exposures in slight wind. Locking up the mirror gave me the most improvement along with turning off image stabilization and putting the shutter on a 2 second delay.

I went into B&H and laid my hands on some beefier tripods (see above post) but it's unknown at this point whether the more expensive Gitzo or Really Right Stuff would give me the steady platform that I need. Instead I decided to first try a long lens support bracket. The theory here is to create two attachment points, one at camera and one at the lens foot, instead of the single point lens foot attachment.

I purchased a Sirui TY-350 long lens bracket which arrived today https://www.bhphotovid​eo.com ..._quick_release_plat​e.html (external link)

First impressions-This is a large piece of hardware and weighs about 1-1/2 pounds. The build quality is impressive and the Arca Swiss connections are solid.

Unfortunately I need to return it. It wasn't made specifically for my Canon gear but I thought it might be universal enough to fit. For starters the two attachment screws on the long plate don't line up with the two threaded sockets on my lens foot. I temporarily attached it using only one screw so that I could continue my testing.

The second problem is that the vertical adjustment bar hangs well below the camera attachment point which comes into contact with the tripod when the lens is pointed upward. Neither of these issues are going to work for me so back it goes and my search continues.

P.S. I knew before purchasing it that in order to rotate the camera vertically the attachment point at the camera would have to be removed and re-attached. Inconvenient yes but I don't shoot very much in portrait mode under these circumstances.

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May 31, 2017 19:16 |  #9

yes, but you've got to be very careful to look for vibrations. When possible, shoot at the lowest setting of your tripod, it makes a difference, even with that substantial benro. That wimberly style arm, I would NOT trust, and I'de get a ballhead for specific shots. The cantilever design is fine for most stuff, likely not for long exposures with long lens.

3 image stitched vertical with 600mm f8 1/15? It's fairly sharp, and could be sharper, you can see that there are people on top of the US Bank building, enjoying that sunset on the helicopter launchpad.

btw, you should look into the RRS or Hejnar long lens support, the design is different and holds the front of the lens rather than the back body, and I think that makes more sense.

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ShadowHillsPhoto
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May 31, 2017 19:36 |  #10

I haven't tested a support like that Sirui, but I think you might get more bang for your buck with a support that goes the other direction and provides a cradle for the lens like the RRS one: https://www.bhphotovid​eo.com ...cB&is=REG&m=Y&sku=1​301198 (external link)

I've used that with both a 500mm f4 IS and 600mm f4 IS II and had good results. You need an Arca plate for the lens or Arca compatible foot. With the big tele's I think it is more important to get the end of the lens stabilized and eliminate vibrations, those big hoods might as well be sails. That's another point, for long exposures at night you might be best served to take the hood right off.

As a final point, I've seen people do tracked star shots on an AstroTrac with 500mm f4 and 600mm f4 lenses and get good results, so stabilizing them for a long static shot should be doable.




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StanNJ1
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May 31, 2017 22:46 |  #11

Charlie wrote in post #18367864 (external link)
yes, but you've got to be very careful to look for vibrations. When possible, shoot at the lowest setting of your tripod, it makes a difference, even with that substantial benro. That wimberly style arm, I would NOT trust, and I'de get a ballhead for specific shots. The cantilever design is fine for most stuff, likely not for long exposures with long lens.

3 image stitched vertical with 600mm f8 1/15? It's fairly sharp, and could be sharper, you can see that there are people on top of the US Bank building, enjoying that sunset on the helicopter launchpad.

btw, you should look into the RRS or Hejnar long lens support, the design is different and holds the front of the lens rather than the back body, and I think that makes more sense.

Thanks for your reply. I really like your shot, I'll have to try the multiple vertical shots one day. By the way 1/15 is no problem for my setup. I'm seeking the 20-30 second variety.


ShadowHillsPhoto wrote in post #18367876 (external link)
I haven't tested a support like that Sirui, but I think you might get more bang for your buck with a support that goes the other direction and provides a cradle for the lens like the RRS one: https://www.bhphotovid​eo.com ...cB&is=REG&m=Y&sku=1​301198 (external link)

I've used that with both a 500mm f4 IS and 600mm f4 IS II and had good results. You need an Arca plate for the lens or Arca compatible foot. With the big tele's I think it is more important to get the end of the lens stabilized and eliminate vibrations, those big hoods might as well be sails. That's another point, for long exposures at night you might be best served to take the hood right off.

As a final point, I've seen people do tracked star shots on an AstroTrac with 500mm f4 and 600mm f4 lenses and get good results, so stabilizing them for a long static shot should be doable.

Thanks for your reply. I saw that bracket by RRS and was on the fence about it because it doesn't look like it actually attaches to the front part of the lens?? Rather it looks like the lens just rests on the two rollers which allow for camera rotation? But you've used it so I guess it does the job.


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Post has been last edited 4 months ago by Wilt. 4 edits done in total.
May 31, 2017 23:07 |  #12

I had not thought about the problem this way before, but look at it this way...

On FF, 560mm FL frames an area of 1130' x 1697' at a distance of 5 miles, which is an Angle of View of 3.68 degrees. Your 1DXII has 5472 pixels horizontally. Assuming it is necessary to keep lateral lens motion under a motion of 20 lateral pixels in order to deceive your eye that the detail is sharp, or 6.2' at the target...you have to hold position to 20/5472, or less than 48 seconds of arc or less that 2/3 minute of arc during the exposure!

...what what are the chances of maintain lateral motion to that precision? On a 40" wide print, the lateral motion has to be less than 0.15" on the print.


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Jun 11, 2017 00:49 |  #13

It is possible to make long exposures with a supertele, but it requires perfect technique.

Short tripod legs, windbreak, mirror lock up.
Cable release running back down the tripod to ground level. (So cable movement doesnt shake anything)

I have used my Slik Pro700 with a 600f4.
Removed the ballhead and bolted the tripod centre column - then framed by lengthening the legs.


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Larry ­ Weinman
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Aug 03, 2017 07:33 |  #14

I have a RRS TVC34 with a Wimberly gimbal and I still get some shake. I use it with a 500mm f4 version one and I get less shake if I don't extend the tripod all the way up, hang weight from the center hook and take off the lens hood even when there is a little breeze as the hood really can catch the wind and cause a shake. If there is time I use a delayed shutter release and mirror lockup. I also hold my hand under the front of the lens with a very slight upward pressure. Sometimes nothing you do will eliminate shake of a heavy lens on a long exposure.


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